The Manchurian Candidate: Assassins and the CIA
MK ULTRA and Mind Control
The MK ULTRA program ran until the late 1960s. In 1973, CIA director Richard Helms, fearing an investigation, ordered all records pertaining to MK ULTRA destroyed. This action hampered efforts by the congressional Church Committee and the presidential Rockefeller Commission to fully understand and investigate alleged abuses by the CIA.
Despite Helms' orders, some documentation of MK ULTRA survived. One memo describes the type of research into mood-altering chemicals and drugs the CIA pursued. MK ULTRA hoped to find:
- Substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public.
- Substances which increase the efficiency of mentation and perception.
- Materials which will prevent or counteract the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
- Materials which will promote the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
- Materials which will produce the signs and symptoms of recognized diseases in a reversible way so that they may be used for malingering, etc.
- Materials which will render the induction of hypnosis easier or otherwise enhance its usefulness.
- Substances which will enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion during interrogation and so-called 'brain-washing.'
- Materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use.
- Physical methods of producing shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use.
- Substances which produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc.
- Substances which will produce 'pure' euphoria with no subsequent let-down.
- Substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced.
- A material which will cause mental confusion of such a type that the individual under its influence will find it difficult to maintain a fabrication under questioning.
- Substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men when administered in undetectable amounts.
- Substances which promote weakness or distortion of the eyesight or hearing faculties, preferably without permanent effects.
- A knockout pill which can surreptitiously be administered in drinks, food, cigarettes, as an aerosol, etc., which will be safe to use, provide a maximum of amnesia, and be suitable for use by agent types on an ad hoc basis.
- A material which can be surreptitiously administered by the above routes and which in very small amounts will make it impossible for a person to perform physical activity.
MK ULTRA also utilized civilians, members of the armed forces and prisoners in testing their various pharmacological concoctions. Assorted human guinea pigs were drugged with a wide range of substances, including mescaline, heroin, marijuana, morphine, MDMA, alcohol, psilocybin, scopolamine, sodium pentothal and their drug of choice, lysergic acid diethylamide (also known as LSD or acid).
Nazi Roots of MK ULTRA
MK ULTRA has its roots in Nazi Germany. Third Reich scientists were consumed with experimenting to test the limits of human mental endurance. Once World War II ended, the United States raced the Soviet Union to see which could collect more of the Fatherland's brilliant scientists. Operation Paperclip was enacted to ensure that the scientists recruited by America would not be burdened by their Nazi pasts; indeed even the name of the operation referred to the new identities that were "paperclipped" to the scientists' dossiers. The U.S. spirited away more than 200 German scientists, many of them rocket experts like Wernher von Braun. But a sizable number had expertise in the fields of torture and brainwashing. They were a perfect fit for the MK ULTRA and its predecessors, Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke.
MK ULTRA was given a wide berth at the CIA and afforded six percent of the agency's operating budget, a large expenditure for such a new, untested program. One early memo summarized the project's goal: "Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self-preservation?"
It's chilling to think that a nation founded on liberty and freedom from tyranny would be so interested in exploring such inimical concepts like total subjugation and abdication of an individual's free will—and that the government wanted this power so badly that it was willing to employ such reprehensible cohorts as Nazi Germans in its pursuit.